Shropshire Council has joined local MPs in asking the government for more essential services and futureproofing funding.
Councillor Peter Nutting, Shropshire Council Leader, and Shropshire MPs spoke to the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary.
“Our ‘ask’ is for enough additional funding to alleviate the funding gap, to allow us to continue to invest in our other essential services, whilst at the same time future-proof the financial sustainability of the council” said the Council Leader.
Shropshire Council says that it is spending 48% of its 2020/21 net budget on adult social care, up from 33% in 2015/16. It says that this is not necessarily because of an increase in numbers overall, but an increase in the complexity of care packages, especially for young adults. It also says that there has been a significant increase in the demand and complexity for looked-after children.
In order to make up for a shortfall in government funding and the social care precept, it says that £19.5 million is being funded by cuts to other council services.
Shropshire Council says that the Fair Funding model was expected to address the funding shortfall in 2021/22. Councillor Nutting stated that “…a new Fairer Funding model needs to ensure that growth in social care costs is funded based on demand, as the current model cannot provide sustainable funding in Shropshire to match the growth in the cost of social care services.
“Shropshire Council has been working hard and making unprecedented efficiencies, whilst transforming public services through innovation, technology and by being more commercial. This process never stops, and we are relentless in exploring new ways to deliver better services at lower cost.”
According to Shropshire Council, the briefing set out key challenges faced by the council. These included:
- The direct financial impact of COVID-19 (and government funding that is currently less than half the estimated cost)
- Government rules meaning that the council can’t allocate all of the £91.7 million provided to Shropshire businesses through the Business Grants scheme, so the remaining money will return to the government instead of supporting Shropshire’s unique economy
- Year-on-year growing costs of service delivery (for which Shropshire Council says that it has continually made the case of additional annual funding of £50 million, growing by around £10 million per year)
However, Councillor Nutting does appear to feel listened to: “The response from The Secretary of State was very positive. He was able to grasp the issues at the heart of Shropshire’s financial problems very quickly, and indicated that the Government were working hard to deliver solutions.”